In case you missed it, Monday’s editorial in The Seattle Times opinion section argues that a cap on ride-sharing services in Seattle does not improve consumer safety and kills an emerging business model. The board also supports lifting arbitrary caps on taxi, for-hire and ride-sharing vehicles.
Let the market determine how many vehicles should be on the road. Don’t limit growth. Focus on consumer safety.
Discussions on insurance gaps must continue in light of accidents involving ride-share drivers in other markets. Lyft has started a committee to find some clarity. Seattle leaders should join that effort.
Ride-sharing quickly gained a following because it keeps more cars off the road and gives drivers a chance to make a living with an asset they already own. Like the taxi industry, many drivers for these new services are immigrants. The council should beware of picking winners and losers.
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Last month, readers sounded off on the ridesharing controversy. Take a look at what people said in this Dec. 19 Opinion Northwest blog post.
Then take a step back and realize a national debate is under way — from San Francisco to Chicago and Washington D.C. — over how to treat “sharing economy” phenomenons such as Lyft, uberX, Sidecar. Do these disruptive models deserve to be subject to regulations like any other business— or given a little flexibility because consumers really like them? I’m in favor of the latter, mostly because I enjoy the ease of using Lyft, uberX and Airbnb services. But it’s no surprise to see agents of the status quo come swooping in to force fresh, uncertain concepts into a box.
The Seattle City Council’s Committee on Taxi, For-Hire and Limousine Regulations meets again on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 4 p.m. Unless they have a change of heart, it appears the three members of the panel — council members Sally Clark, Bruce Harrell and Mike O’Brien – will vote to increase taxi licenses by a modest amount and cap ridesharing vehicles at anywhere from 300 to 600 licenses. Don’t like that? Let them know.
Council members Sally Bagshaw and Tom Rasmussen oppose caps. Mayor Ed Murray says he “generally” opposes a limit but would support a “temporary cap.” He’s trying too hard to be balanced, but at least he’s willing to consider shaking up the current taxi and transportation system. Here’s a section of his state of the city address last week that seems prescient:
As elected leaders, I believe we should take as a challenge the renewed excitement, the focus and enthusiasm, the spirit of innovation that’s taken ahold of our city.
How can we ensure that City government is as talented and energized, as enterprising and innovative as the people it serves?
Our answer to this question should be informed by our common history as progressives.
As elected leaders, we cannot and should not seek to hit pause on progress by clinging blindly to the status quo, or inhibit innovation by protecting outmoded ways of doing business.
We must be willing to embrace new practices – even where they may be as disruptive as they are constructive.